December 2, 2021
Since 2004, people have known Facebook as the most popular and widely used social networking site in the world, with 2.85 billion active users. Just this year, it was reported that there were an estimated 1.93 billion people using the site daily. Recently, the network took a step forward and rebranded itself completely. Facebook will now be known as “Meta.”
The metaverse is a vague term, and does not refer to a specific type of technology. It’s more about the shift in how people interact with technology. Virtual reality and augmented reality are two technologies that are considered “metaversal.” The metaverse could also translate to a digital economy, where it would be possible to create, buy, and sell goods among other users. The metaverse could possibly create a persona almost as a replacement for virtual identities like profile pictures and avatars.
Mark Zuckerberg has had his company’s rebranding in mind for a while. The announcement has been building up for months and was finally released at the Facebook Connect virtual conference on October 28. Zuckerberg said during the conference, “I’ve been thinking a lot about our identity recently.” He first told his employees about the new initiative towards the end of June, that he hopes Facebook is “seen as a metaverse company.”
In simple terms, the metaverse can be described as a combination of reality and virtual worlds.
Zuckerberg sees this idea as the next digital revolution, and described it as an “embodied internet.” He believes it will go beyond modern social networking; the focal point will no longer be on mobile devices.
Facebook has already released multiple products that are “pieces of the metaverse.” For example, new virtual reality headsets were released: Oculus Quest 2. Additionally, the company announced a partnership with Ray-Ban to release a line of eyewear that can record videos.
There are other advantages to the company’s name change. Recently, Facebook and its sister apps have received criticism from the public. Reports from The Wall Street Journal have indicated that Facebook was aware of the body image issues and harmful effects Instagram brought upon teenagers. These revelations have led to scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators, and congressional hearings as well. While Facebook’s name change wasn’t to stray away from their poor reputation, it certainly helped.
This vision is not something Zuckerberg innovated himself. Companies such as Fortnite, Roblox, and Animal Crossing have already developed a few aspects of the metaverse. Other tech companies will follow Facebook’s lead over the next few years and continue to build on the idea of the metaverse. However, because this idea is theoretical and based on science-fiction, it may take years for Facebook to evolve into what Zuckerberg desires.
“I think this is a persistent synchronous environment where we can be together, which I think is probably going to resemble some kind of hybrid between the social platforms that we see today, but an environment where you’re embodied in it,” is how Zuckerberg described his plan for the future of Facebook.
Regardless of what the future holds for the company, Facebook’s jump into the metaverse will develop an entirely new social networking experience that will change the game and inspire other creators for years to come.